Ligand-receptor promiscuity enables cellular addressing

Christina Su, Arvind Murugan, James Linton, Akshay Yeluri, Justin Bois, Heidi Klumpe, Matthew Langley, Yaron Antebi & Michael Elowitz
In multicellular organisms, secreted ligands selectively activate, or "address," specific target cell populations to control cell fate decision-making and other processes. Key cell-cell communication pathways use multiple promiscuously interacting ligands and receptors, provoking the question of how addressing specificity can emerge from molecular promiscuity. To investigate this issue, we developed a general mathematical modeling framework based on the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway architecture. We find that promiscuously interacting ligand-receptor systems allow a small number...
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